How we respond to stresses

The word “stress” has become so frequently used that it seems to have lost its meaning. However sufficient research has been done to make it very clear that it is one of the major factors in both short term and chronic conditions.

How to handle the stress in our lives is something that we all need to pay attention to as the poster below illustrates.

Shocks or stresses to the body system can have any of the following reactions, or a combination of all three in varying degrees, on our Autonomic Nervous System (ANS):

Freezing. Here energy becomes stuck.  Physically this can mean joint or ligament tightness (this tends to impact the *Wood Element in Chinese Medicine - Liver & Gall Bladder) combined with shallow breathing and an inability to let go (Metal Element: Lung & Large Intestine).

Hyperactivation with the Fight/Flight response or overwhelm (eg. panic attacks) is an over-activation of the body leading to potentially to exhaustion and confusion. The Water Element (Kidney & Bladder) eventually becomes depleted here.

Dissociation. This is an extension of the above when the safest option is to disconnect from yourself;  this can lead to memory and concentration problems. Essentially the consciousness goes outside the body (being “not with it” or “spacing out”).  Fire Element: Heart & Small Intestine; Heart Protector & Triple Heater are all relevant here.

All three of these reactions of the ANS are essentially defensive. They can begin very early on and become layered in our body-mind system. Up to the age of three our ability to organise our experiences has not developed sufficiently. Difficult births, family dynamics can all impact on the growing nervous system. Further layering takes place as we mature and take on our own responsibilities.

Stress can be triggered by daily events such as rushing to work, some disappointing news or a more serious upset.  If we don’t allow time for these responses to calm or downregulate, they accumulate and stress levels increase. This leads to disconnection from our Earth Element (Spleen & Stomach) and a growing sense of not being connected to our bodies. Life begins to seem as though it is happening to someone else and we lose our vitality.  We literally “don’t feel ourselves” and can become overwhelmed. Craniosacral works from this focus, listening to where there is overactivation or freezing, or where there is not much vitality in the body, allowing it to sense safety and gently unwind or recharge at a deep level.

* I mention here the overlap with the TCM element model which I use when treating stress in my Shiatsu practice.

how can we work with stressHow we can work with stress?

Just as we can be activated by ANS, so we can come back slowly into our physical self by resting, meditating and listening to ourselves.

The aim of Craniosacral work is precisely to allow this deep reconnection, this re-membering. Physical pain can be deeply linked to emotional stress and it is often difficult to untangle the two.  Being present to once buried feelings is often hard to begin with; it is a gradual process where curiosity, not judgement, leads the way. As these knots begin to free our capacity for life, for appreciation and self-awareness comes to the fore and we can begin to feel a  very different person, physically, emotionally and mentally. We become embodied.


For any further information on Shiatsu and Craniosacral Therapy contact

01666 824 625 or 07952 923 245

Or you can email me on: jessica@relaxedandenergised.com

Clinics are in Malmesbury and Bristol.
For further details see Appointments.

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